Land co-op launches share offer for eco-housing project

Somerset Co-op Community Land Trust is looking for £534,000 to develop sites in Taunton and Wiveliscombe

Somerset Co-op Community Land Trust (SCCLT) has launched a community share offer to build eco-housing in Taunton.

The offer – on the Ethex platform – has a target of £534,000 (with a minimum figure of £185,000) by 14 October 2020 and will fund the further development of the Trust’s site in Taunton, and the purchase of a second site in Wiveliscombe, Somerset.

The project will to provide permanently affordable, community-owned homes alongside working hubs for local community enterprises that create jobs, deploy green technologies and deliver high quality local services.

Alex Lawrie, operations manager of SCCLT, said: “Everyone taking part has a vote, so you can make sure the project is run sensibly by people you trust; and if you live or work in Somerset it could be as little as £1 that you put in – though only sums over £50 earn interest.”

Investments will help SCCLT to develop eight affordable new-build one-bedroom flats at the East Reach site in Taunton, where the co-op already owns five units, giving local people who are struggling to afford property a way to rent secure and affordable homes with a built-in sense of community.

Funds will also support the Somerset Co-operative Hub incubator, which serves the wider community as well as tenants in the East Reach development.

New communal amenities will include garden spaces, a meeting room and a small shared laundry. The proposal also facilitates an embryonic urban farming co-operative with the provision of a vegetable growing area and a rooftop greenhouse for early cultivation of fruit and vegetables.

The co-op also plans to convert a disused brewery site in Wiveliscombe, a small market town in Somerset, with a mixed development of sustainable and affordable homes combined with workspace for social enterprises and community businesses.

A community-owned renewable energy scheme is also being planned to reduce running cost for tenants, along with an electric vehicle sharing scheme run by a local co-op for residents and the wider community.

Lisa Ashford, CEO of Ethex, said: “We are delighted to be able to help Somerset Co-op CLT to raise the funding they need to move these exciting plans forward. This is an excellent opportunity to become a part of something special, helping this fantastic co-operative to create a model for housing and co-operatives that is run and owned by the community, for the good of all.”

Alan Debenham, chair of the SCCLT, said: “The excitement in this project is that for the first time we’re doing an entirely new build – so we can put in to the design all the eco innovations that we want and at the same time make sure that the flats are at the right price for single people and new households.”